Friday, October 28, 2011

Leaving a Godly Legacy

The Bible I use for my morning reading has a tattered bookmark holding my page.    A few mornings ago, I stopped to read, again, the words on the bookmark.    It comes from Nancy Leigh DeMoss who heads up the "Revive Our Hearts" ministry.   I first heard of her in 1998 on VCY America radio station.   Interesting to note that Nancy has no children yet the legacy she is leaving has touched millions of families through her radio show listeners.

The bookmark proclaims Psalm 127 on one side:

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows;
for so He gives His beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, 
the fruit of the womb is a reward.

Like arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.

Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed,
But they shall contend [speak] with their enemies in the gate.

The other side of the bookmark is a reminder of what "leaving a Godly legacy" means in terms of daily life and commitment.    Nancy lists the following "jobs" along with a Bible reference and questions to ask myself.   

  • Establish the priority (Ps. 78:2-8)  Do I feel a personal sense of responsibility for the spiritual condition of the next generation?  Am I making a conscious effort to ensure that they walk with God?
  • Depend upon God (Ps. 127:1)   Am I praying persistently and fervently for God to turn the heart of  the next generation toward Himself?
  • Set an example (Ps. 128:1)  Am I modeling love for God and holiness of life?  If t he next geneeration grows up to be just like me, what will they be like?
  • Embrace biblical roles (Ps.128:1-3)  Is my home in order?  Am I living out the biblical role and responsibilities assigned to me by God?
  • Teach them diligently (Ps.78:5)  Am I consciously teaching the Word and the ways of God to the next generation? 
  • Control the climate (Ps. 101)  Am I protecting those entrusted to my care from ungodly influences?  Am I providing the kinds of influence that will create in them a hunger for God?
  • Send them forth (Ps 127:4)  Am I instilling in the next generation a vision for how God wants to use them to fulfill His purposes in our world?

Considering these questions over the years has made me realize how much I MUST depend upon God to work out the details.   But I must do MY job, too!!!  

Mom, your job is SO important.  Begin immediately! Do not wait until your children are "old enough to understand" doctrine.    Begin while they are still in the womb ... praying, praising God, singing psalms and giving thanks.

Mom, your children are the most important thing you will ever "do" in your life.   And your attitude toward Bible reading, prayer, Bible study and church is a MAJOR factor in how your children will spend eternity.   That is WAAAY more important than anything and everything else including their sports, their grades, their college, their jobs, their friends, your grocery shopping, your home & all its pretty decorations, your career.  ANYTHING!  EVERYTHING!

Jesus told a parable about a farmer who planted seeds which landed on four different kinds of soil and the harvest reaped from those four places (Matthew 13).

Mom--you are that farmer.  Your child's heart is the soil into which you're planting God's Word.  Please take the time to prepare that soil so the Seed will be able to root and grow and produce a lovely harvest!   But don't stop there!    Continue to sow those Seeds for life-long harvesting!

"Farming" is hard work.  It involves sweat.  It involves determination.  It involves patience.   Don't give up. 

Heavenly Father,
Send your Holy Spirit to work in my life, each moment, 
to preserve and strengthen my faith 
that I may share God's love with my children and their children.  
O Lord, let me never take for granted the important work You have given me. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Become a Titus Two Friend?

I'd like to dedicate this post to 
Barb N., Janelle L., Sande S., Marge C., and Marge S. 
at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Spokane, Washington.    
May God richly bless you for the love you always share(d) 
and for the many blessings He worked in me through you.

Years ago, when I was a young woman in my early 30's, I had the privilege of attending a weekly ladies' Bible class at our church.  New moms, middle-aged moms, moms of teens and young adults, and grammas.  It was great to be surrounded by so many godly older women.   I'd been married for 12-15 years by then--raising four foster-adopt children, plus a toddler and a new baby (Allison was still a twinkle).    I'd been a Christian my whole life, but you know how it is, some of the stuff in the Bible remains words on a page until you see how they work in real life--and suddenly Scripture becomes a living-breath part of YOU. 

Well, anyway, several of these older ladies would share little pieces of their lives during discussions in Bible Class.  Maybe a comment about child-rearing or how they handled marriage issues when they were first married and "what I'd do differently today" or something like that.    They knew their Bibles inside-out, and their love for the Lord was always uppermost in their actions.  It was such a pleasure to be around them.   Don't get me wrong, they all had their ups-n-downs (we're all sinful, after all!), but still, they had something I wanted in my life!  

After we moved from there, I realized what a HUGE blessing these women were, and for the next dozen years I  yearned to be a part of a community like that again with some Godly older women to mentor me.   Anyway, there I was reading my Bible, and I read again the words of Titus Two where St. Paul wrote to young pastor Timothy, that he (Timothy) should 
instruct the older women who are settled in their families and have kind and caring natures to train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to teach them to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one would malign the Word of God  

Of course, I had read these words before, but it struck me that while I had been yearning for my own mentor--look at me! I had two daughters who were "younger" than me.  Something our pastor said about the "home mission field" in conjunction with that passage brought about a Light Bulb Moment!   Because of the way our family came about (years of infertility, adoption and THEN babies), I've always been keenly aware of my/our responsibility to train them to love the Lord (etc).   I also knew that my own mother had not purposefully trained me to love my husband or children and all that other stuff in Titus Two.   Floundering around as a newlywed and oldlywed--neh! I didn't want my own daughters to go through that.  So, I became MUCH more purposeful in teaching and training them and of my own words and actions as well.  (Bummer that I still fail so often!)

But you know how it goes?  Just when you think you've got it all figured out?  God comes along and smiles on you.  And your life goes from ordinary to wonderful in a heartbeat.   Plus, when God lays stuff on our hearts, He doesn't mess around.   And He doesn't always lay it down like a tiny, downy feather floating around on a breezy day.  Sometimes it's like a 50-lb anvil crashing through the front door.  You can't help but notice.   On mine, He laid the desire to purposefully train the younger women in my life.  Starting with my own two girls and then with any girls or young women who came across my path (sons' girlfriends/fiancees/wives, girls at church/youth group/community, newlywed brides).  

And then something else happened.   I started getting gray hair, which in my mind signified that I was no longer exactly "young" (altho' I'll always be young-at-heart like my Gramma B).  AND I became a gramma myself.  There is nothing like the advent of grand-children to make one think about (said with a deep melodramatic voice) "leaving a legacy."   I wasn't just affecting my own children, the things I was teaching my girls would affect their children and on down the line of my descendants.  Did you ever stop to think about this?   It's ENORMOUS!

God continued to work on me.   He sent along friends and family who told me "you're a great writer" or "the kids love the way you teach!" and others who asked "me" for ADVICE!  A lot.   I don't know about you, but this feeling that God is/was nudging me along gave me SUCH confidence (altho' I still stumble through my days!).  Several responses / articles I wrote on home-schooling/home-making websites were published (people actually LIKED what I wrote!!---do you know what that does to a writer's ego?)!!!   WOW!

For years, I've been collecting and jotting ideas in notebooks and journals, things I wanted to pass along to my children (particularly my daughters), like family recipes or traditions and helpful hints for home-making. And Bible study thoughts.  I thought I'd organize these ideas, somehow, and type them up into a little booklet.   Then someone invented the internet and blogs, and my little seed of an idea began to put out roots, and grow and grow and grow!   I saw a bigger garden forming than anything I'd imagined all those years ago.

So......last year I "planted a garden" with this blog based on the precepts God spelled out in Titus Two.    And here you are! If you like what you see, please feel free to join.    Leave a comment (or two) if you like what you read.  Ask questions or just shoot the breeze.    And if you like the blog, please recommend it to others.  

OR check out the brand, spanking new Titus Two Friends account on Facebook--it's only ONE DAY OLD, and you know how we all love newborns!   :-)    Go ahead and "like" that and you'll find daily prayers and Bible passages and whatever else Deb's mind comes up with (all God-pleasing wonderful stuff!).    Share ideas or respond to things I post.   

My intent is for Titus Two Friends to be a community where older and younger women can mingle and share and learn and inspire each other.  Because we love the Lord and our families and our husbands.   

Sunday, October 23, 2011

My Times Are In Your Hands

This past spring, I started this series with good intentions and then a BUNCH of life intervened.   We bought a house, and I’ve been a bit busy since then.   

At this point, I have (had) the perfect opportunity to “claim” I was ever-so-busy each and every minute all summer long.   After all there was ALL that packing and unpacking and organizing and de-cluttering to do.  There were two houses to clean.  All the painting in the living and dining rooms, sewing room, family room, a guest room and a hallway.  Uffdah!   Did I mention scrubbing a huge deck and cleaning the pool and some yardwork?    And I worked for two or three hours a day in my "virtual admin assistant" job.  

Honestly that was a LOT of work, a lot of sweat, and a lot of household juggling, and there's still a ton more to do.  BUT every single day--right up to this very moment--I still manage(d) to waste an incredible amount of time dinking around on Facebook!!!

This one is MY biggest time-waster.    How about you?

Disclaimer:  This is NOT a case of the pot calling the kettle black.   I struggle.  You struggle.  We're in this together.

Time Waster #1:  The Computer & Social Networking

Consider your use of the computer and social networks like Facebook, MySpace, GooglePlus, etc.   How much time are you wasting by reading posts and typing responses?  Especially all the "fan pages" and political groups?   What else could (or should) you be doing instead?   Who would benefit if you re-arranged your priorities?

Are you spending an equal amount of time socializing with your Heavenly Father as you do with your social network of friends?    Which one will give you eternal satisfaction?   Can you figure out a way to do both and still get some work done around home?    

How many blogs are you following that are really just meaningless drivel (of course TTF isn't drivel! <wink!>) or someone re-hashing her own daily life?  If Jesus was sitting next to you at the keyboard, would you be “following” some of these pages or people?

What about playing games and gossiping?  Is this the best use of your time?   Is this a God-pleasing use of your time, talents, and treasure?   What kind of example are you setting for your children?    Is your home in disarray because you spend MORE time on gossip & games than you do making your home sparkle?

What to do Instead?

If you can’t resist checking in on Facebook or your favorite blogs, reward yourself by only going on AFTER your daily Bible-reading and household chores are completed or while the children are napping.   

Set a timer.  Use an on-line timer
  to block yourself or get a friend or spouse to set it up for you for, say, a week.  Then go do something else--productive, useful, uplifting, inspiring.  

Usage Re-Defined:    Use Facebook for sharing your own uplifting messages.  Post Bible passages from your daily reading.   Encourage others to higher values and thoughtful ideas.  Try some of these suggestions; tailor them to your specific needs or talents.

Alternatives:   Follow blogs that encourage you to higher standards of Christian living as a wife and mother.   De-clutter your Facebook fan-pages by un-liking those that leave you feeling angry or manipulated.   Share the Gospel message on each post!

Love your husband and children,
Be self-controlled and pure,
Be busy at home,
Be kind,
Be subject to your husband,
In doing all this, 
your life brings glory to God!
My paraphrase of Titus 2: 4 & 5

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REMINDER: There ARE Halloween Alternatives

If you haven't noticed already, the secular celebration of Halloween is quickly approaching.   What's a Christian to do?


I wrote extensively about this topic last year covering the historical and spiritual background and the cultural perversions.      Click on this link for "Halloween Alternatives"  right here on my blog.   

Celebrate the Christian Reformation of the church instead.

"Rejoice in the Lord always.... 
Let your gentleness be evident to all.  
The Lord is near.... 
in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, 
present your requests to God.  
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding 
will GUARD your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  

Finally, whatever is true...noble...right...pure...lovely...admirable,
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy
--think on such things."
Philippians 4:4-8 NIV

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My Days are in His Hands

Those who believe on the LORD shall be like trees near the stream of living water.

Sitting ..... in the quiet of my study, wrapping up a few loose ends of correspondence.  

Working ..... on lessons for my homeschooling co-op classes and clearing out my In-basket from all the clippings I've picked up over the past six months.  It's a long process.   

Thinking ahead ..... to taking a trip to North Carolina to visit our grandchildren and son and daughter-in-law.   Hoping the leaves are still pretty on the trees so the trip will be lush and lovely.

Thankful ..... for my family and my husband who bring me so much joy and grateful for my good health.  

Planning ..... for a Christmas gathering with the girls and their mothers in my "Building & Furnishing a Christian Home" co-op class.   It will be a late-afternoon "advent by candlelight" event.   The topic will be "Five Women Who Changed Eternity" (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary), based loosely on the Lineage of Grace series by Francine Rivers (one of my favorite authors).   

Encouraged ..... by the enthusiasm of my Nature Study co-op class students, I must plan our upcoming field trip.       

Listening ….. to birds visiting my feeders just outside the window where I'm working.    They're quite busy out there.   

The heavens declare the glory of the Lord,
the earth and everything in it.